Perhaps you've recently seen ads for a horror film called The Ruins. The commercials feature bikini clad women (that's strike one against the movie) who shriek endlessly (strike two), while jerky hand-held camera-work and frenetic jump cuts make it impossible to see what's supposed to be so damn terrifying (three strikes and you're out).
Around the fifth time I saw the commercial, I heard the announcer say "based on the terrifying best-selling novel."
Hmm, well maybe at least that's worth looking into.
So, I forked out $4.50 for a used copy of the novel from Amazon Marketplace (hard-bound, ugh--that will teach me to read the description more carefully), and last week I breezed through the novel in a few evenings.
I'm not sure I'm able to agree with Stephen King's hyperbolic claim on the book-jacket that "The Ruins will do for for Mexican vacations what Jaws did for New England beaches."
First, I've never taken a vacation in Mexico.
Second, I've never been to a New England beach.
And third, the novel just isn't very good.
It's not terrible by any means, and it does have its share of creepy (and increasingly gruesome moments), but apart from a few particularly nasty images that have stuck with me in the few days since I finished the novel, I've pretty much forgotten this unpleasant bit of fluff. (It does make me glad yet again, however, that I live in a townhouse I don't have a verdant garden to tend.)
Out of curiosity, I watched the online trailers for the film and read the entire plot synopsis on the Moviepooper website. Apparently women weren't victimized quite enough in the novel, so the film keeps the characters' names but reassigns their roles and grisly fates. (That's a particular cinematic pet peeve of mine--something I've hated since I was a kid seeing the first of many Dracula films in which Lucy and Mina's roles are combined or swapped. Why? To what possible effect??)
Though I wasn't deeply invested in the novel's protagonists, I keep did hoping that at least some of the imperiled college students would survive their jungle misadventure. I have to give the book credit for being bold enough to deny that hope. The movie's producers, of course, didn't trust audiences enough to make the same bleak choice.
Still, I'll probably get the DVD from Netflix at some point. After all, the film does benefit (at least for a time) from the presence of semi-hottie Shawn Ashmore, of X-Men fame.
My recommendation: if you're in an airport bookstore about to board a long flight, you could do worse than reading The Ruins for a few hours.